Match Report: Kent vs. Essex

Match Report: Kent vs. Essex

Kent vs. Essex was the Spitfires’ second home match of the season at The Spitfire Ground, St Lawrence in the LV= Insurance County Championship.

Kent Spitfires’ T20 opener for 2023 is now less than 5 weeks away, against Gloucestershire at The Spitfire Ground, St Lawrence in Canterbury on Wednesday 24 May – entry to all scheduled T20 home matches is included in Kent Cricket Memberships, on sale now.

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Day Four Report:

The LV= Insurance match between Kent and Essex at Canterbury ended in a draw after the weather wiped out the final day.

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Heavy rain fell throughout and play was officially abandoned at 13:00.

Kent had ended day three on 342 for seven, trailing Essex’s first innings total of 451 for five declared by 109, but a draw had always looked likely and in total 206 overs were lost across the four days.

The limited amount of cricket there was had been highly entertaining, with Nick Browne and Tom Westley scoring 159 and 148 for the visitors and Zak Crawley responding with a brilliant 170 on day three, but conditions on Sunday started badly and had no realistic prospect of improving.

Essex take 12 points and Kent eight.

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Day Three Report:

A regal 170 from Zak Crawley helped Kent to 342 for seven on day three of their LV= Insurance County Championship game with Essex at Canterbury, a deficit of 109.

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The England man made his highest ever score for Kent, producing an innings of style and brutality as the hosts avoided following on, despite four for 141 from Simon Harmer.

Earlier Nick Browne hit 159 before Essex declared on 451 for five. Tom Westley made 148 and Michael Pepper was unbeaten on 52, but with 118 overs lost to the weather on days one and two and the forecast for Sunday looking bleak, the draw now looks the most likely outcome.

For the first time in the match, The Spitfire Ground was bathed in sunshine when play began and Essex immediately went on the attack.

Westley drove the first ball of the day through the covers for four but he subsequently perished to an astounding piece of fielding by Daniel Bell-Drummond.

When he hooked Conor McKerr to the square leg boundary it looked almost certain to be a six, but Bell-Drummond managed to grab the ball in mid-air and flick it back over to the rope to Ben Compton. It was a moment of that rivalled Jordan Cox’s miraculous leap in the 2021 Vitality Blast final, the difference being that it wasn’t filmed and only a few hundred people in the ground were lucky enough to witness it.

A mini-collapse ensued as Wes Agar had Paul Walter caught behind for eight, before McKerr took a sharp return catch to get Matt Critchley for one, but Blast mode quickly resumed, with Pepper ramping McKerr for six and Browne driving Jack Leaning through the covers to pass 150.

Leaning eventually had Browne caught on the long off boundary by Jordan Cox, but Essex declared as soon as they’d secured the fifth bonus point.

Openers Crawley and Ben Compton moved cautiously to 13 without loss at lunch, after which the former launched an aggressive counter-attack, driving, cutting and even reverse-sweeping his way to his fifth red-ball century for Kent and his first since his 105 against Hampshire in September 2020.

He smashed Harmer back over his head for six to pass 50 and pulled the same bowler through mid-wicket to get to three figures, but an opening stand of 162 ended Harmer bowled Compton for 46 with a ball that trickled off the foot of his bat before hitting the stumps.

Harmer nearly had Crawley when he was on 130, but Browne put him down at short leg. Harmer did trap Bell-Drummond lbw for 23 with the final ball of the afternoon session and then had Leaning caught by a tumbling Paul Walter at mid-wicket.

Cox was on 21 when he was dropped by Ben Allison off Doug Bracewell, but he failed to cash in, driving the same bowler to Harmer at backward point having added just six more.

Harmer then bowled Sam Billings middle stump for one and having passed his previous highest score for Kent, 168 vs Glamorgan in 2018, Crawley was finally caught behind off Jamie Porter, with Kent still 14 sort of the follow on target.

Joey Evison subsequently edged one past gully to get the hosts within 150 and although Hamid Qadri was caught behind off Matt Critchley for 16, Evison and McKerr batted through to stumps.

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Kent’s Zak Crawley said: “I’m really pleased. The key to the innings, I reckon, was just staying very relaxed. I’ve been probably a bit too tense at the crease recently and I felt really relaxed and tried to play my natural game and it worked today, which was nice.

“It’s a really good cricket wicket, when you bowl well on it it’s tough to play and when we bowled well at times it seemed tough for their batters. When you didn’t bowl well it was really nice to score, it came on well, there was a bit of pace in the wicket and a bit of turn towards the end there as well, so it’s a shame the first two days got rained off because it could have set up a nice little finish, but we’ve still got to work hard to get the draw.

“Simon Harmer started bowling really well and was getting a bit more turn so I had to rein it in a little bit and score my runs from the seamers’ end. They were also giving me the one towards the end and trying to get me out of my rhythm, which they did pretty well all day.

“Joey Evison batted really well as well because it was important to get past the follow on target.

“It’s always nice to score runs and enjoy the game of cricket. That’s something that I’ve probably lacked in the last year, that enjoyment. At the end of the day it’s just a game, that’s what I’ve been telling myself for the last couple of weeks actually and I’m just going to play every game like I’m playing in the back garden and it worked today. Hopefully I can stick with that mindset because I think that’s the way to go forward. You can get too tense and that’s not going to be me at my best.

“Hopefully there’ll be a bit more cricket tomorrow because it’d be a shame if it’s another rain-affected day.”

Day Two Report:

Tom Westley and Nick Browne both hit centuries as Essex advanced to 289 for one on day two of their LV= Insurance County Championship game with Kent at Canterbury.

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Westley scored an unbeaten 138, which contrasted with Browne’s more measured 105 not out, but for the second day running conditions halted Essex’s progress, with just 32 overs possible.

Kent’s bowlers toiled again and Westley and Browne have now put on an unbeaten 246 for the second wicket.

Almost incessant overnight rain left the outfield at The Spitfire Ground saturated, wiping out the entire morning session, but conditions slowly improved.

Essex were on 164 for one when play finally got started at 15:15 and they carried on where they’d left off on Day One, scoring at four an over, with only the occasional alarm.

Westley reached three figures, from 129 balls, with a violent straight drive off Conor McKerr that flew to the Pavilion End boundary and it was 245 for one at Tea, the duo having added 81 without loss in 22 overs.

Browne took almost twice as long to pass three figures, hitting his 236th delivery, from Hamid Qadri, for two through the covers. Browne’s form had dipped since his biblical 238 not out against Somerset last July and this was the first time he’d made even a half-century in 14 innings. His relief on making his century was transparent and Westley gave him a bear hug to celebrate the landmark.

The leaden skies encouraged him to accelerate and he smacked a four off Evison before bad light forced the players off at 17:40.

With the rain falling once again play was subsequently abandoned for the day and just 74 overs have been bowled over days one and two.

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Kent Men’s Head Coach, Matt Walker, said: “It’s been a stop-start game so far and the weather’s got the better of us unfortunately, but we find ourselves in a not dissimilar position to last week. We’re behind in the game, we haven’t bowled as well as we should have done and they’ve batted pretty well on a pretty good surface.

“I thought Wes Agar was outstanding, I thought he really showed how to bowl, on that surface with good pace and good carry. He kept going and was a real threat all day, we just couldn’t back it up at the other end unfortunately. No one else seemed to get in any rhythm or put any pressure on and it became pretty easy batting for the for the most part.

“It’s the same problem as at Warwickshire. We just didn’t bowl enough balls in the right areas, it’s a simple as that. Our length percentage was well down, we bowled both sides of the wicket again and it showed on that wicket. There’s not much margin for error and if you stray from a good area you get punished.

“The numbers tell the story really, although you don’t need the numbers, you can just watch it and you can see that we were well short. There were very few passages when we gained control or put pressure on. When we did we looked a bit of a threat but it just wasn’t enough.

“The bowlers are trying. There’s a lot of talk around where we want to bowl, it’s not rocket science. We try to get the ball in the right area over and over again, they are trying but they’ve not been able to do it and that unfortunately is a lack of execution, which followed in from last week.

“It’s frustrating because against Northants we were very good and got the rewards, but in the last two games we’ve been well short and against two really good batters you’re going to get punished. The will is there but the execution’s not.

“The honest truth is that from this position it’s unlikely we can win this game. We go into day three, they’re still batting and I suspect they’ll keep going and try to get a big score, put pressure on us and try and bowl us out twice.”

Day One Report:

Essex dealt the first blow on the first day against Kent in the LV= Insurance County Championship at Canterbury, posting 164 for one.

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Tom Westley was unbeaten on 71 and Nick Browne made 54 before the rain intervened.

Kent debutant Wes Agar took the only wicket to fall when he had Alastair Cook caught behind, leaving him with figures of 39 for one.

The players initially came off for bad light during the afternoon session and heavy rain subsequently saw play officially abandoned at 17:00

Essex were on the front foot in what little action there was. After winning the Toss, they chose to bat in Baltic conditions and approached the morning session like wizened old-timers taking on Kent’s bowling attack.

Kent’s breakthrough came when Cook, who’d made a rapid 39 from 30 balls, edged Agar behind to Sam Billings. By claiming the former England captain’s scalp, Agar reportedly won a bet with his brother Ashton, whose first wicket for Australia came as a 19-year-old when he dismissed Cook during the 2013 Ashes test at Trent Bridge.

It was the only bright moment for Kent during an otherwise one-sided session that saw Essex reach 121 for one at Lunch.

Westley drove the second ball of the afternoon session, from Conor McKerr, through point to reach his half-century and Browne passed the same landmark with an elegant cover drive off Nathan Gilchrist.

The visitors had raced to 159 for one when bad light halted play at 14:19. There was an-eight minute resumption before rain started to fall and with no realistic prospect of conditions improving, the umpires called a halt for the day.

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Kent’s Wes Agar said: “It’s always exciting to come to a new place and play cricket. County cricket is something that I wanted to tick off the bucket list in my career and to be able to get my cap today was a really pleasing moment.

“It was definitely special (to get his first wicket). Alastair Cook’s a great player and renowned worldwide. He’s someone I certainly look up to on the field, he has a presence and I was lucky enough to get him out. Unfortunately not before he’d done some damage to the scoreboard, but it was pleasing nonetheless.

“I think he was Ashton’s first Test match wicket so it was cool to share that bond, but obviously there’s a lot more work to do in the coming days.

“It’s definitely different to Australian wickets. Coming over here you get told what to expect, but you don’t really experience it till you’re out there in the middle, so it’s about adapting to that. They’re a little bit slower off the wicket, they don’t have the bounce and carry that the Australian wickets do, so it’s just about adapting to that and talking to the boys who have experience out here and how we’re going to go about it. Obviously the goal is to get the 20 wickets and they might come unconventionally but if we can create those 20 chances it goes a long way.

“I keep it pretty simple, I don’t think too much at the best of times, so I just go out there and do what I do. That’s put me in the position to be here. The length changes here, you’ve got to put your ego on the hook and if you get driven down the ground a couple of times it’s ok.

“There are some great players in each side. I’m coming up against players that I’ve seen and a lot that I follow on Instagram! I’m no stranger to the quality of the cricket here.

“I’ve played against Joe Denly, I’ve played against Sam Billings and back home I’ve played with Jas Singh who’s also a young, upcoming quick here, in Adelaide, so I’ve got some ties with the boys. I’ve played with Grant Stewart many years ago back in Adelaide so I do know the boys and it makes it a lot easier fitting in.”

The Battle of the Bridge turns T20-style this June

Kent Spitfires will face Essex in a T20 showdown back at The Spitfire Ground, St Lawrence at a new start time of 18:30 on Wednesday 7 June:

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Ticket holders for this match also gain complimentary access to South East Stars vs. Central Sparks in the Charlotte Edwards Cup T20 competition from 14:00 on the same day.

Be here for every moment that matters this Summer. A Kent Cricket Membership guarantees you entry into every scheduled home match this season, without the need to pre-book tickets – starting at just £275.

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